December 16th 1958

A bit of a change for the blog, as this post isn’t about our car or trip. On October 18th 1958, a team from Standard-Triumph departed Cape Town. Their intention was to drive two pre-production Heralds (then known under the code-name “Zobo”) to Tangier.

On this day 58 years ago, the convoy arrived by ferry in Gibraltar, having completed some 9,500 miles through harsh terrain.

During research for our trip, I found the technical report on the trip on a mailing list, reproduced by John Kipping. It’s interesting to note the issues faced during the journey, though there are some gaps:

The Standard Motor Co. Ltd Engineering Report No. 10,970 

Details of the various weaknesses and of the various failures.

Zobo 4-Seater & 2-Seater
These vehicles were severely handicapped through the majority of the journey by low ground clearance. This was appreciably aggravated by settling of the road springs, and the laden clearance when these vehicles finally arrived at Kano did not exceed 4".

As a result of this it was impossible for the vehicles to, at practically any time, ride on the track made by other vehicles. Instead they were compelled to run with one wheel on the centre ridge and one on the edge of the track. In this manner they sustained probably more severe road conditions than the remainder of the vehicles.

But for the chassis frame it is extremely unlikely that these vehicles could have negotiated the African roads as well as they did.
The firm suspension was well suited to most road conditions but on the corrugations the ride was harsh and in this respect only it would be unwise to harden the front suspension further for this type of territory.
As fast cornering is not necessarily a condition one has to meet in the Rhodesias, East Africa or Nigeria, it is possible that the anti-roll bar, at present proposed in the new design, would not necessarily be required.

The radius rod failures experienced at the rear end would appear to have been satisfactorily overcome by the proposed modifications.
The severe wear experienced on the nylon fulcrum bushes is a result of dust entry and side loading imposed by the closing action of the lower wishbone arms. If this closing action can be eliminated by the introduction of a suitable brace it is possible that rubber bushes, similar to the upper inner fulcrums, could be re-introduced with success. This matter is to be investigated further. 

The failure experienced on the inner fulcrum attachment bracket bolts are considered to be a direct result of shock, and the action of introducing a head on the bolt should produce the required safeguard, providing that the welding operation on the bolt head has no adverse effect on the material.

The main body concern must be the in the bonnet structure, which gave repeated trouble with the front reinforcing struts failing with consequent fracture damage in this vicinity. The chassis frame itself withstood the severe pounding well but shows one apparent weakness.

Although not yet confirmed by measurement, it would appear that the fame is bending and taking permanent set directly in front of the front outriggers. In one instance a severe fractured occurred in this area on the 4-seater.

In the frame bend tests, carried out on the prototype frames, no weakness was apparent in this area. It is possible, however, that with the body fitted this weakness would be more apparent as the potential point of weakness corresponds with the point where assistance from the body would end. As it is impossible to deepen the frame at this point, the introduction of a corner gusset channel or alternatively, a frame insert may relieve this condition.

The radiator failures experienced indicate that the radiator is carrying more load than originally envisaged.
With the introduction of the proposed side valances this condition is not relieved and the introduction of a suitable cross brace would appear to be necessary.

The engine cooling on the 4-seater is comparable with the Pennant and is not satisfactory for the African market. The Pennant radiator can be fitted without too much difficulty providing no starting handle is required, and the introduction of this radiator, or a suitable alternative, would appear to be essential for these markets.

Engine & Cooling System
Boiling was experienced on several occasions throughout the test. This was relieved to some extent by the introduction of the heater, but not cured. The thermostats were removed from all vehicles at Cape Town but this would not be expected to assist when negotiating long ascents.

Gearbox & Clutch
No mechanical failures encountered. Overrun roughness in the transmission is particularly prevalent but was not investigated. Investigations at present being conducted in the Experimental Shop indicate much of this roughness is associated with insufficient insulation on the rear axle rear attachment rubbers. Gearlever vibration and stiffness in operation are further complaints which require further investigation.

Rear Axle
No complaint, although axle slightly noisy towards end of journey.
during the journey from Gibraltar to England, one axle nose beam attachment bolt worked loose, jamming in the propellor shaft attachment bolts. These bolts were experimental taper shanked bolts. The production specification calls for plain bolts with tab washers.

Rear Suspension
The O.S.R. hub bearings failed at Maradi, (6,750) the indications being that, the needle rollers failed initially, possibly due to a 'soft' shaft surface condition. New bearings and axle shafts were fitted.
At Gibraltar the N.S.R. shaft was removed to investigate a 'knock' which developed towards the completion of the journey. examination of the shaft showed play to have developed in the universal joint. This was replaced.
The rear dampers were considered to be a little weak at Kano and were replaced by new units.

Front Suspension
New front suspension spring and damper units were fitted at Kano to replace the original units in which the springs appeared to have settled considerably. No trouble was experienced throughout test with increased gauge damper upper attachment washers.
Severe ware was noted of the nylon inner lower fulcrum bushes at Niamey (7,100). These were subsequently changed at Gibraltar. Failure occurred of lower wishbone arms, on the bend adjacent to the lower damper attachment point, at Stanleyville (4,400), and at Adrar. These failures occurred at welded joints, the wishbone arms being experimental fabricated ones, and would not be expected on production produced units. The failures were rewelded and plated.
The suspension has been stripped since the vehicle has returned, and both lower trunnions were found to be in excellent condition, being unworn and with sufficient lubrication left to ensure considerable additional mileage to be covered without need for servicing.
Both upper ball joints were found to be in good condition with regard to wear but were found to be heavily contaminated with dust. The gaiters were found to have perished and split.

The bonnet developed excessive movement shortly after leaving Gao and examination showed the bonnet tube to have broken at the hinge points.
The N.S. reinforcing strut had broken away from the support tube and subsequent cracking had occurred around the grille opening in the top N.S. corner, continuing up around the headlamp aperture. These failures were repaired by welding.

Similar failures re-occurred at Adrar when the support tube failed at both hinge points. In this instance the bonnet was removed for repair.The chrome beading around the grille became detached and could not be made to withstand the road conditions without repeatedly coming adrift. It was finally removed. The method of attachment of this beading is not in accordance with normal practice, the weight of the bead being supported by the clips. This is obviously not very satisfactory and design action would appear to be required.

The dash shelf fractured badly around the base of the screen wiper attachment bracket. A plate was fitted internally to reinforce the panel and no deterioration of the panel cracking occurred. The screen washer bottle support is unsatisfactory, inasmuch that, the bottle is not clamped and is allowed to rotate on corrugated roads winding up the plastic tubing outlet until the unit is placed completely out of action.

The bonnet fastener springs appear generally weak and one case of spring failure of the O/S of the bonnet was noted. In the lowered position, the winding windows shock out of their channels. Removal of the door casings was necessary to replace the windows. The mechanism stops have now been modified to prevent this condition arising in future.

<Page missing, 4-seater - Engine, Gearbox, Clutch, Exhaust, Prop, Brakes & Instruments>

Front Suspension
Negotiating a track deviation near Ft. Archambault the N.S. front lower inner suspension fulcrum attachment bracket bolt failed under shock conditions, severely twisting both lower wishbone arms. The wishbone arms were rebent and a new fulcrum attachment bolt fitted. A similar failure occurred of the N.S. rear attachment bolt near Kano and this was rectified in the same manner.

The front springs, which had settled badly, were changed together with damper units, at Kano. The lower inner fulcrum bushes, which showed signs of excessive wear at Niamey, were finally changed at Gibraltar.

Both lower trunnions showed no evidence of wear when stripped, and although the remaining lubrication was not as great as the 4-seater, sufficient remained to have satisfactorily lubricated the joint for a further appreciable mileage. the rubber seals on the trunnions showed evidence of having leaked oil at some period.

Engine Mountings
The engine mounting brackets collapsed in a similar manner to that described under 4-seater and were rectified in the same manner.

The steering gave no trouble during the test but strip examination showed identical conditions to those described under '4-seater'

The radiator block side plates fractured adjacent to the lower attachment points. No action was taken and the failure did not develop to a serious condition.

Rear Axle Assembly
The axle nose beam fractured adjacent to the O.S. mounting after completing 4,400 miles. This member has previously completed 1,100 Pave miles and had previously been damaged at this point. The fracture was rewelded and plated.

The failure re-occurred at Ft. Lamy (5,800) and the member was removed from the vehicle for repair. It was apparent that the original failure had not been fully repaired and that the second failure was as a result of an original crack not having been detected. A second repair was carried out and no further trouble was experienced.

Whilst negotiating soft sand near Bidon V, the N.S. rear outer axle shaft failed in fatigue approximately 3" behind the needle bearing. Being at this stage short of axle shafts it was decided to weld and sleeve the fracture. This was carried out but a further failure occurred on the outer weld after completing an additional 800 miles.

The faulty shaft which had sustained bearing failures on the 4-seater Zobo earlier was then fitted. This lasted until Gibraltar, and when finally replaced with a new shaft, the shaft on the needle bearing surfaces, was found to be very badly worn.

Rear Suspension
The O.S. radius rod failed on the corrugated road between Livingstone and N'Dola, Rhodesia. This had, apparently. been influenced by the fact that the radius rods had been fouling the body, midway along their length. The faulty rod was repaired by sleeving and welding, and the body flange at point of foul was set to provide greater clearance.

A further failure, this time of the N.S. radius rod, occurred on the road north from Jadotville. This failure was repaired in a similar manner, this time with a bar insert to reenforce the joint. Yet another failure occurred near Fizi of the O.S. rod again, the rod fracturing across a weld. In this instance a completely new rod was made from 3/4" diameter tubing, being suitably set to provide maximum clearance.

No further failures were experienced. Modified design radius rods were subsequently fitted at Kano which proved satisfactory for the remainder of the journey. The rear road spring settled progressively from Cape Town. It was finally removed at Kano and an additional blade fitted.

Chassis frame
Appreciable boulder damage was sustained, which produced cracking and splitting of the front outriggers. These were repaired by welding and plating. Apart from the apparent bending, which occurred in front of the front outriggers, no other frame weakness was noted.

Both horn attachment springs (2 blade type) fractured in the Belgian Congo, one horn being lost as a result of this. The horn push gave continued trouble on the corrugations, jumping out of position. The present production type of attachment was not fitted.

Ignition failure occurred due to open circuit which was traced to an open circuit ammeter.
The main harness frayed badly where crossing the front of the bonnet, particularly where the harness crosses the joint of side to centre panels in the corner of the air intake aperture, and adjacent to the rivet of the bonnet support tube.

Similar troubles to the 4-seater were experienced with the bonnet, and the need for an improved reinforcing strut condition is apparent. The bonnet lock mechanism gave trouble due to excessive wear of the retaining catches, and it is felt that an improved condition would be obtained if these were hardened.

The bitumized rubbing strip, for the bonnet guide rollers wore badly and should, for production. be replaced with a more durable material such as balata. The windscreen wiper/screen washer bracket assembly vibrated badly on the rough surface resulting in severe cracking of the scuttle shelf. Reinforcing plates were introduced with success. Due to this action, no doubt, failure occurred of the windscreen wiper conduit at the wiper box union. This was later reflared and refitted.

The plastic water blinds fitted inside the wheel arches are not successful in preventing water and mud entry into the engine bay, although no doubt, they must help in reducing the amount. Fouling of the road wheels occur on these blinds when nearing full lock with disconcerting noises. In addition, the rubbing action of the blinds on wishbone arms and on the brake hoses produce wear which would eventually prove dangerous.

The sun visors on the car under test, were fitted to a central bracket. They continually worked loose and were finally removed. The single mounting proved to be inadequate for the rough road conditions. The door vents are insufficiently spring loaded and as a result, could not be maintained in a fully open position.

In all other respects the body complaints were as for the 4-seater.



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